While search engine technology and information¬†retrieval (IR) predates the web (as in the mid-1990’s), we often refer to the optimizers of the web as starting their craft (early SEO’s) about – give or take, 1995.

NOTICE: Is this picture really a lake? (It’s an illusion!) *See below for the real answer.

These webmasters (myself included) figured out a way to develop websites that showcased products, services and general information and brochureware online — while including tags, code and text that seemed to elevate their listings when searched.

These sites were often not pretty, but some have also been, and still are very big money makers – and haven’t changed much since then.

But, even though spammers (not me!) started to include keyword stuffing and many black hat SEO tactics, it became a very feasible, challenging and rewarding exercise for any webmaster and business owner to do it themselves. A new branch of software and web development was born: search engine optimization. It’s not necessarily a great term, but it stuck. (Note: Remember, you are not optimizing the search engines – you don’t own them – but you ARE optimizing websites, which you do have control over)

Why is SEO still a big deal – even though PPC gets the ‘most bucks’?

SEO efforts yields (page one results) the most worthy of clicks, the highest of trust – and the most frequent.

Imagine you are looking for information about ‘acne treaments’. Ask yourself this: Which position or result in the search engines are you going to trust the most? Forget the hard facts, and multiple, year long studies about this. It’s common sense, as you know and interact the web. The paid advertisements – like Google Adwords can be brought up in minutes, and mirrors a paid commercial, of sorts. SEO takes time, and search engines, specially Google – looks at trust and authority as big indicators for top positioning. The “T & A of internet” is not an easy or fast accessible target.

It can take months and years for the most competitive of keywords. (ie: web hosting, credit cards, viagra, weight loss, etc)

However, SEO is not an illusion or a waste. If you look at the top 10 listings across any major category within the top three top mega-niches:

  • Health
  • Wealth
  • Relationships/Humans

…you’ll quickly notice by a visual scan of the first page of search results that they have been optimized by these webmasters – some with years of experience, others with less (and sometimes very obviously so).

Take the ‘acne treatment’ keyword example. Type it into Google. Then, just look over the TITLE tags in the top results (blue link) and you’ll see that they all have the keyword included, and some early, and others early + repeated. They may include action/benefit statements as well (not just keywords!).

Now, use that keyword again, but place ” (quotes) before and after that keyword, and you’ll notice that 9 of them (at the time of search) has the keyword included in the TITLE. (Tip: using the allintitle: command will reveal the sites that have (very likely) SEOs working on them, and could be important for you to study and learn from).

Sure, as the search engines evolved from the V1.0 model to the V2.0 (Google & Links/PageRank, 1998) and into current time (Universal, Social, Local, News, Images and more) – we have learned and still see that SEOs are winning major ranking, traffic and visibility wars.

Why do you think they are doing this? It works – and it will continue to work – and also with new social signals and expanding people networks (Facebook, for example).

Are you winning in the SEO world?

What do you think about SEO? Is it working for you? What marketing opportunities or online channels are you using today? And, what are you testing for tomorrow? (ie. mobile)

Let’s rock! Begin today! Optimize (w/keywords) your TITLE tags at least!

Here’s the view of the illusion:

(Lake Wall Illusion)


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Entrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after Digital Marketing Experts. His clients extend from high-end brands and middle-tier businesses in both B2B and B2C. His SEO website optimization book, "The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website" from Entrepreneur Press is in bookstores now.